| Cosina Voigtländer Bessa R2 rangefinder camera,|
accepting M-bayonet mount lenses
image by Rick Soloway (Image rights)
See also the earlier Voigtländer company.
This page describes Voigtländer-branded products of the Japanese company Cosina. These products are sometimes referred to as Cosina Voigtländer (abbreviated CV), even if no company of that name exists and the name combination is not officially used by the Cosina company. The Voigtländer brand is conspicuously applied on the cameras — sometimes even Voigtländer Germany — and the Cosina name is inconspicuously applied elsewhere on the product.
Cosina leased the rights to the Voigtländer name, which it has used since 1999 for cameras, lenses and other photographic equipment designed by itself (and thus really has no closer a connection to genuine Voigtländer than to Leitz, Zeiss, etc.). This Voigtländer-branded line has centered on 35mm interchangable-lens focal-plane-shutter rangefinder designs. The product line has been innovative and imaginative, and priced lower than the obvious alternatives (although higher than Cosina-branded products), and has been well received.
The Cosina Voigtländer range consists of camera bodies and lenses with the most widely-used 35mm rangefinder mounts; and also SLR cameras with the M42 mount, and SLR lenses for the M42, Nikon F and other mounts; as well as miscellaneous accessories.
The German company Ringfoto also markets some budget-priced photographic goods under the Voigtländer name; these appear to be completely unrelated to Cosina and they are not dealt with in this article.
See Bessa (35mm) for details
Cosina Voigtländer cameras have all been branded "Bessa", a name previously used by Voigtländer for 6×9 view- and rangefinder cameras (see Bessa).
The first from Cosina was the Leica-thread-mount Bessa L, which lacks any finder but (like all its successors) has a TTL meter. This camera shows a close relationship with a number of cheap SLRs that Cosina had made for various other companies, and of which the Nikon FM10 may be the best known.
The Bessa L was followed by the Bessa R, a camera with integrated rangefinder and viewfinder (and thus similar to the Leica M6 and so forth), with framelines for 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm lenses. This camera was reproached for using too much plastic by some users. Despite this, the camera is reliable and lightweight.
Next was the Bessa T, a most unusual camera in that it has a rangefinder but no viewfinder. Its rangefinder baselength is slightly greater than that of any other Bessa model.
The Bessa R2 is a Bessa R with a Leica M mount and various minor changes. There are two variants with different lens mounts, the Bessa R2S and Bessa R2C for Nikon S mount and Contax mount respectively. These have shorter rangefinder baselengths than their Nikon, Contax or Kiev equivalents, but are unrivaled among bodies with these mounts in having TTL metering.
All subsequent models of Bessa so far (2007) have had the Leica M mount. They have included the Bessa R2A, Bessa R2M, Bessa R3A, Bessa R3M, Bessa R4A, and Bessa R4M: within these names, "2" means magnification and framelines as for the Bessa R and R2; "3" non-reduced finder (as on the Canon P) and framelines for 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 90mm; "4" a wide-angle finder and framelines for 21mm, 25mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm; "A" aperture-priority automatic exposure; and "M" manually set exposure (and detailed improvements over the Bessa 2). The «A» models can only fire with a working battery, whereas the «M» models can fire properly with a dead one - the lightmeter only stops working.
Cosina has also sold various special editions: different colors, combined with unusual lenses, and so forth.
| Bessaflex TM|
image by Marc Vanstraelen (Image rights)
The Bessaflex TM is an M42-mount SLR that was made in two styles: first black (and looking rather like a more compact Canon F-1) and then also silver (and a clear if smaller imitation of a Topcon RE Super).
Inexpensive SLRs manufactured by Cosina have also been marketed by Ringfoto under the Voigtländer brand. The Voigtländer VSL 40 appears to be a rebadged Cosina C1; and the Voigtländer VSL 43 a rebadged Cosina C3. These models use the Pentax K-mount bayonet and have no connection to earlier Voigtländer VSL models based on the Rollei SL35 lens mount.
|image by Christian Kornmesser (Image rights)|
Bessa III 667 was announced in 2008 as the export name for the Fujifilm GF670 and sold in 2009. The couple of years later the wide angle version was available as the Bessa III 667W.
Cosina first started producing lenses under the Voigtländer brand in 1999, when it introduced screwmount 15mm and 25mm lenses with the Bessa L. When released, the 15mm lens was much smaller than any SLR lens of the same length, and very much cheaper than any compact alternative for a viewfinder or rangefinder camera. The company has since produced a surprising variety of these lenses in Leica screw mount, M mount, Nikon S mount (some fully usable with Contax bodies), and several SLR mounts (particularly M42 and Nikon F). It also produces larger hoods for many of the lenses and accessory viewfinders. While the lenses have familiar Voigtländer names, the optical formulae are all new.
LTM rangefinder lenses
Not rangefinder coupled
- 12mm f/5.6 aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar with included metal viewfinder and Armalite hood, black or chrome. When released, the widest rectilinear lens ever sold.
- 15mm f/4.5 aspherical Super-Wide Heliar with integrated partial hood (no filter thread) and included plastic viewfinder, black or chrome
- 25mm f/4 Snapshot Skopar with included plastic viewfinder and hood, black or chrome
- 18mm f/4 Color-Skopar with hood, black (released as a prototype only)
- 21mm f/4 Color-Skopar with included plastic viewfinder and hood, black or chrome
- 28mm f/1.9 aspherical Ultron with Armalite hood, black or chrome. Unusually fast for a rangefinder lens of this length.
- 28mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar with hood, black or chrome
- 35mm f/1.7 aspherical Ultron with hood, black or chrome
- 35mm f/2.5 Color-Skopar with a single optical design but two barrel versions: "C" (with hood, black or chrome), and "P" (black only)
- 50mm f/1.5 aspherical Nokton with hood, black or chrome
- 50mm f/2.5 Color-Skopar with hood, black or chrome
- 50mm f/3.5 collapsible Heliar with hood, chrome only (only available with a Bessa T101)
- 75mm f/2.5 Color Heliar with hood, black or chrome
- 90mm f/3.5 APO Lanthar with hood, black or chrome
M-mount rangefinder lenses
All of these are rangefinder coupled.
- 21mm f/4 Color Skopar (optically identical to the LTM 21/4)
- 25mm f/4 Color Skopar (optically identical to the LTM 25/4)
- 28mm f/2 Ultron
- 35mm f1.2 Nokton. The fastest lens of its length.
- 35mm f1.4 Nokton Classic (in two versions: single-coated and multicoated). Released 2008.
- 35mm f/2.5 Color Skopar PII (optically identical to the LTM 25/4)
- 40mm f/1.4 Nokton (in two versions: single-coated and multicoated). The fastest rangefinder lens of its length.
- 50mm f/1.1 Nokton. Released May 2009.
- 50mm f/2 collapsible Heliar Classic (only available with a Bessa R2M or R3M)
Nikon S–mount rangefinder lenses
All of these are rangefinder coupled, and all were available in a combination of black and silver.
The wider lenses were named "SC" and marketed as being suitable for the old Contax mount as well as the Nikon S mount; the longer ones, named "S", were not. (In practice, the longer lenses are also usable with a Contax if stopped down or used at longer distances.)
Contax-mount lenses had not been produced since the end of Soviet manufacture of lenses for the Kiev, while Nikon S–mount lenses from companies other than Nippon Kōgaku had always been rare. Further, the Cosina Voigtländer range brought lenses of focal lengths that are not otherwise available for these mounts.
- 21mm f/4 SC-Skopar
- 25mm f/4 SC-Skopar (rangefinder coupled, unlike the screwmount equivalent)
- 28mm f/3.5 SC-Skopar
- 35mm f/2.5 SC-Skopar
- 50mm f/3.5 S-Heliar (only available as a set with a Bessa R2S with special paint)
- 50mm f/2.5 S-Skopar
- 50mm f/1.5 S-Nokton
- 85mm f/3.5 S-APO Lanthar
Lenses for 35mm SLR
These are all manual-focus lenses. The original SL range were cosmetically designs of the 1960s or 1970s (e.g. chromed metal focusing ring without rubber grips). They were produced in several manual mounts: Nikon F, Canon FD, Minolta MD, M42, Pentax K, Contax/Yashica, Olympus OM. All are now (2007) discontinued.
- Ultron SL 40mm f/2
- Color-Heliar SL 75mm f/2.5
- APO Lanthar SL 90mm f/3.5
- Macro APO Lanthar SL 125mm f/2.5
- APO Lanthar SL 180mm f/4
For certain Nikon SLR bodies, requiring mirror lock-up and supplied with separate finders as well as the option of an accessory shoe to replace the finder of a Nikon F or F2:
- 12mm f/5.6 aspherical Ultra-Wide Heliar
- 15mm f/4.5 aspherical Super-Wide Heliar
Cosina sold an "FS" adapter to use either of these lenses with a Nikon S or Contax mount, and an "FL" adapter for use with a Leica screw mount. The latter adapter can of course be combined with one for the Leica M mount, and entirely different adapters can be used to combine the lenses with other bodies that can be used with the mirror permanently locked up.
Starting in 2007, the new SLII range for Nikon F, Pentax K mount and Canon EOS and designed to allow use with digital cameras:
- 20mm f/3.5 Color Skopar aspherical SLII
- 28mm f/2.8 Color Skopar aspherical SLII
- 40mm f/2.0 Ultron aspherical SLII
- 58mm f/1.4 Nokton SLII (the same optical design as Cosina's "Auto-Topcor" 58/1.4)
The all-black finish, single aperture stops, rubber focussing ring and (for Nikon F-mount) CPU coupling distinguish the SLII lenses from their SL counterparts. Newer SLII lenses feature an "N" denotation which means that the focus ring is made of machined metal, as opposed to metal with a rubber grip on non-N models. As of 2013, the Pentax K mount models are discontinued, while the Canon EOS and Nikon F mount models are still in production.
- Voigtländer VC Meter
- Voigtländer VC Meter II
- An unofficial Cosina Voigtländer FAQ at peat.org
- Cameraquest: Stephen Gandy's company sells Cosina Voigtländer products and describes them in a site that is unusually informative for a retailer.
- Review of the 28/1.9 lens by Lutz Konermann
- Shutterbug review of the Voigtländer VSL 43